ANC demands boycott of Israeli products

2012-06-30 19:20

Conference delegates want more solidarity with Palestine

A boycott against all products imported from Israel is on the cards if ANC members get their way.

At the ruling party’s policy conference which ended on Friday, delegates voiced their concern about the lack of vigour in the ANC’s solidarity campaign with Palestine.

“Many members say there must be an increase in the boycott of products that are imported from Israel to South Africa,” said Lindiwe Zulu, presidential adviser on international relations and member of the ANC’s international relations subcommittee.

Zulu told reporters that delegates felt there must be “an increase in visibility on Palestine”.

In a move that is set to upset Israel, delegates wanted a full boycott of Israeli products to show that the ANC’s solidarity with Palestine has not changed.

Recently this was a topic of discussion at an NEC meeting in May, and shortly after that trade and industry minister Rob Davies announced that products from the occupied territories must be labelled as such.

This irked Israel immensely because the Jewish state does not believe that Gaza and the West Bank are occupied. They believe these areas rightfully belong to Israel.

On Thursday the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) joined Jewish groups in a march opposing the labelling of products from the occupied territories.

According to ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, the march drew about 1 600 people and a memorandum was handed over at the headquarters of the department of trade and industry in Pretoria. The ACDP believes South Africa should not take sides in the Middle Eastern crisis and rather position itself as a credible mediator, Meshoe said.

Israeli lobbyists believe if the labelling notice becomes law, Israeli companies will refuse to label goods and therefore stop exporting them to South Africa, a move that may have an impact on some industries like the beauty products industry.

Labelling of goods that say “West Bank” may be considered, Israeli lobbyists say, but not “occupied territories”.

Palestinian lobby groups want South Africa to become part of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign to force Israel to reach an agreement over Palestinian land.

The South African government is wary of such a move, as it may create tension between South African and the United States, which is a key ally of Israel.

Meanwhile, Zulu announced that Swaziland has finally agreed to loan conditions for a R2,4 billion bailout from South Africa.

Zulu said the ANC will partner with Cosatu to come out strongly against the abuses of the Swazi government, especially the jailing of Swazi activists.

“There are those languishing in jail with no prospect of being charged or a court process being followed. This must stop,” she said.
She warned that South Africa will regret “waiting too long” to deal decisively with Swaziland.

“We don’t want the same situation we had in Zimbabwe, where we waited too long. We shouldn’t wait until it erupts into a
full-scale fire.” She also said the ANC wants the South African government to develop a code of conduct for entrepreneurs who do business in the rest of Africa.

“We’ve had quite a number of complaints from African countries about our businesspeople. There must be institutional recourse if our people do not do what they should do,” she said.

» See also “Fiction in Zion” 

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